Spending just a few dedicated days a year to your finances can help you make massive changes, and spring is an ideal time for that. Here are some tips to take advantage of the season and get your money under control:
Spring Cleaning Tax Time Advantages
Tis the season for taxes. Even though your taxes might be done by spring, you can still benefit from the work you did to gather all of your documents. Chances are good that as you were rifling through all your tax documents, you had some ideas for how to organize them better for the year ahead. Maybe you want to keep better track of your work expenses, or you thought of a simpler way to file away useful paperwork.
Ditch the Paper
Not only is paperwork overwhelming in your space, but it’s easy to lose track of and gets in the way of important documents. Many banks, credit cards and utility companies offer paperless options so that your bill comes directly to your email. That makes it easier to search for, file away in your email, and come back to later. In the mean time, sort through the paper you have already. Save only what you need.
Here is a guideline for how long you should hang on to paper documents.
Streamline your payments and cut down on late fees by automating whatever you can. If you set your bills to pay automatically each month, you won’t have to deal with penalty fees or even the hassle of manual payments. It might only save you five minutes, but across all of your monthly bills, that time adds up.
The same goes for your savings. Did you set some savings goals for yourself this year? The easiest way to hit those goals is to set up automatic deposits to your savings account every month. That way, your money can go directly to savings before it ever hits your checking account.
Take a Look at Your Spending
Wondering where all your money goes? Taking some time to answer that question can help you overhaul your budget. Here’s one activity to illuminate any problem areas:
Gather a few highlighters and the past few months of credit or debit card statements. With one color, highlight necessary payments, like bills. Using another, highlight expenses that might not be mandatory, but you’d really like to continue (gym memberships or your Netflix account, for example.) With a third color, highlight those impulse expenses that you really didn’t need. This exercise gives you a visual representation of where your funds are going and any areas of excess.
Even if you only dedicate ten minutes to your financial house, you will start to notice major benefits over time. Take that spring cleaning motivation and use it to make your money life as simple and efficient as possible.